July 11, 2012


You remember the show “The Bucket List?” The story of some old guys that decide to make a list of things to do before they “kick the bucket.” Well, I’ve started completing mine! Oh, I never wanted to go sky diving, or deep sea diving, or climb a huge mountain, just because it is there. I’m not much on climbing anything unless the dining room is upstairs. But, being a cowboy, I always wanted to attend the Calgary Stampede, and this year, Shirley and I decided to go!
We took off on a Thursday evening. Drove as far as Wolf Point and spent the night. By five the next morning, we were rolling down the “High Line” of Montana. Highway 2 is a great drive. You follow the Missouri and Milk Rivers. Great cow country and great farm lands. After driving through drought-ravaged southeast Montana and Wyoming a couple of weeks ago, this was, although I will probably never know, what heaven must look like.
As we crossed the border into Canada at Sweetgrass, you hit mile upon mile of wonderful farm land. Thousands upon thousands of acres of bright yellow blossoms of canola and an occasional bright blue field of flax. Miles of wheat fields waving in a light breeze. You drive along the edge of beautiful cities and well kept farmsteads. Contrary to what many on our side of the border believe, Canadians do not live in sod huts or log cabins. Cities such as Lethbridge and Medicine Bow are beautiful. The highways are wide and smooth and it’s about as pleasant a country as you can find.
Calgary is a city of well over a million people. Now, I’m a little uncomfortable in a crowd of more than eight at happy hour, so it was with a little apprehension I got into this deal. But with my trusty guide, Shirley, we made it into our motel.
The Stampede is billed as “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.” I suppose because Barnum and Bailey claimed “The Greatest.” If it’s not the greatest, it dang sure ranks up there with the best! Now you dump a couple of country folks in a city of over a million, you wonder how in the heck you can get to the Stampede Park. Don’t worry. Just walk a block, buy a $2.75 ticket and jump on the LRT. That’s the light rail train. I’m not real good at this kind of deal and the Canadians noticed this. You talk about being helpful! I don’t know how many people could see us kind of struggling to know how this system works. I had visions of entering the “Twilight Zone” and being stuck forever on a train going around Calgary, but with the assistance of many friends, we became professionals at riding the rail.
The crowds at the Stampede are amazing! Over 100,000 people a day go through the gate, 100,000! Way over. This was the 100th Stampede, so it was special.
 I’m afraid by attending the Stampede Rodeo, I have ruined my rodeo going for the rest of my life. They invite the best cowboys and cowgirls in the world. They select the greatest stock possible, and they have tens of thousands of screaming fans. The weather was great, the people friendly and helpful, and the horses bucked like you have never seen. It is an amazing production, and since I’ve been involved in rodeo my entire life, I sure tip my hat to them.
I am writing this from a motel in Shelby on the way home. Early. Real early. Shirley is anxious to get to the hay field. You may not recognize me when I get back. I bought a bunch of stuff at the trade show at the Stampede, but I guess I’ll explain that next week.
Till then, as they say at the Stampede, “YAHOO!”